Hundreds of Dallas prostitutes are repeatedly rounded up and arrested, only to quickly return to the streets to feed their addictions. It’s a flawed strategy that officials are trying to amend with a new approach: treating the women more like victims, reports the Dallas Morning News. Police are teaming up with social service providers to combat rampant prostitution at four truck stops along the Interstate 20 corridor. The new initiative gives female offenders a choice between the usual criminal penalties or a probationary community service and rehabilitation program suited to their needs. “We’re going to look at the prostitutes more as victims than always as a criminal,” said Deputy Chief Julian Bernal. “Most of these women have some type of drug dependency or they’ve suffered from some type of abuse, mental or physical.
So far this year, in the area of the four truck stops, there have been reports of 13 aggravated assaults, one rape, 54 robberies, 18 burglaries, and 419 thefts. They hope curbing the prostitution will have a ripple effect. For those facing misdemeanor crimes, a municipal court judge will be on site to make probation arrangements for women who agree to rehabilitate themselves and complete community service. Those charged with felonies will be taken to jail but will still have the opportunity to enter the program.